Project Goda: What is proposed and What do people really want?

“Package I will include cobblestone paving, stone benches, cycle track, signboard installation, tree plantation, heritage walk, jetty and floating fountain,” said an official of the Nashik Municipal Smart City Development Corporation (NMSCDC).

“In Package II, the entire river will be cleaned. A bridge has been proposed from Hanuman ghat to Ramwadi. A pedestrian bridge has also been proposed from Chinchvan to Hanumanwadi. Automated mechanical gate, interception and division for Aruna and Waghadi rivers and rejuvenation of Waghadi river are part of the project,” said the official.

Source: Sarkar, Sumita. (2017, October 31). ‘Goda ghat project to boost cultural tourism’. The Times of India. Online at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/goda-ghat-project-to-boost-cultural-tourism/articleshow/61364894.cms

“पहिल्या पॅकेजमध्ये गोदाघाटाचे सौंदर्यीकरण केले जाणार आहे. यात गोदाघाटाला पौराणिक लूक देण्यासाठी दगडी पेव्हर ब्लॉक, दगडी बेंच बसविले जातील. त्यासोबत कयसाले ट्रॅक, पदपथ, नामफलक, वृक्षारोपण, आकर्षक कारंजे निर्मिती तर दुसऱ्या पॅकेज अंतर्गत नदी स्वच्छता, अहिल्यादेवी होळकर पुलाखालील बंधाऱ्यांच्या गेटवर स्वयंचलित यांत्रिकी दरवाजे, हनुमान घाट ते रामवाडी दरम्यान पूल, चिंचबन ते हनुमानवाडी पादचारी पूल, तसेच अरुण व वाघाडी नदीसाठी वळणघाट आदी १८ कामे केली जाणार आहेत.”

Source: Ma Ta Correspondent. (2017, December 13). ”गोदा प्रोजेक्ट’ ला जानेवारीचा मुहूर्त ‘. Maharashtra Times, pp. 03.

Probing the ‘Project Goda’

As the reports suggest, the Project Goda (under the scheme of Nashik Smart City) is designed for heritage conservation, promotion of cultural tourism, and reduction of pollution along the Godavari riverscape. The focus of the project is beautification of the riverfront, but what does this beautification mean for an average Nashikkar?

“मला वाटत गोदमाईचे प्रचीनपण पहाणे म्हणजे…वृक्ष, लता वेलींनी, फुला,फळांनी बहरलेले किनारे. पक्ष्यांचे गुंजन, वाऱ्याच्या लहरिबरोबर दरवळणारा गवत, फुलांचा सुगंध. चंदेरी स्फटिक पाण्यानं भरलेल्या आणि मंद वाहणाऱ्या डोहात सूर्य किरणात क्षणात चमकून जाणारी सोनेरी,चंदेरी माशांची लगबग. काळ्या, निळसर खडकांवर बसले बगळे, पक्षी आणि त्यातून किणकिण आवाज करत धावणारा लाकाकता प्रवाह… बहुदा त्या गौतमीचे पौराणिक रूप असच असावं…

आता अशा ठिकाणी आपल्याच मनातून स्टोन पेव्हमेंट, स्टोन बेंचेस,आणि स्टोन क्लायडिंग लावून पहा, मनाला काय जाणवते ते…वेदना ? की पौराणीकता? का सौंदर्य???”

(I think, seeing Godavari’s heritage or legacy means…river bank filled with trees, vines of flowers, fruits. The chirping of birds, grass dancing with the flows of winds, aroma of flowers. The hustle of golden and whitish fishes, suddenly shining in the rays of sun, in a doha filled with clean and clear water. Bright white heron and birds, sitting on black and bluish rocks, and through them meanders the fluttering streams… Probably, such would be the mythological form of Gautami…

Now, at such place, imagine stone pavement, stone benches, and stone cladding, how does it feel…Painful? Or mythological? Or beauty?)

“ज्या सुधारणा दुसऱ्या पॕकेजमध्ये आहेत त्या अगोदर व्हायला पाहिजे…एकदा गोदावरी सुशोभिकरण झाले की शुध्दिकरण करतीलच याची काही शाश्वती नाही…कुंभमेळ्याच्या सुशोभिकरणाचे उदा. लक्षात आहे ना?आधी शुध्दीकरण मग सुशोभिकरण…हेच घडायला हवे…आजा-याला औषध महत्त्वाचे….गंधपावडर नाही…”

(Things proposed in Package 2 should be implemented first… After beautification of Godavari, What is the assurance that steps will be taken to reduce pollution… Don’t you remember the case of beautification during the Kumbh Mela? First conservation then beatification… This should happen… Medicine is important for the sick… Not cosmetics…)

The proposal of Project Goda is full of ambiguous conceptualization of heritage conservation, beautification, and cleaning. Are these projects suitable for the ecology of Godavari? How feasible are these projects, keeping in mind the fate of the previous ones? Do the ideas of heritage conservation and beautification align with popular notions or local understanding (or perspectives) of the tradition and culture? The interventions designed for the cleaning the river, are they temporary solutions or are permanent?

Nashikkars not only want the waste out of Godavari, but they also want clean and clear water flowing through the Godavari. Instead of cosmetic infrastructural development along the banks of the Godavari, they want the revival of the ruined and damaged symbols of Nashik’s heritage and tradition. The phases of the ‘Project Goda’ should be – firstly, implementation of permanent solutions for revival and conservation of the river Godavari; secondly, beautification and infrastructural development along the banks of the river; and lastly, promotion of tourism.

There is a considerable gap between – what people want and what is proposed by the governing bodies. Thus, the urgent need is the active participation of civil society to establish a constant dialogue with the administration, to shape the future of the city and more importantly, future of Godavari.

News Reporter
I am an architect turned anthropologist. After finishing my Masters in Anthropology from University of Pune, I was working with Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune under a project funded by UNICEF and Integrated Child Development Scheme, Government of Maharashtra. During which I was stationed in Nandurbar District of Maharashtra (which is predominantly a tribal region) as a Field Research officer. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, India. My current research explores the interaction of the cultural-religious, the political-economic and the ecological dimensions of the river in Nashik city in Maharashtra. Broadly, investigating how the multiple perspectives of a natural resource overlap, contradict, challenge and support each other, thus shaping the urban landscape and producing socio-spatial inequalities.

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